Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 31: The Great Path to World Peace [31.2]

31.2 Treasure Towers of Respect for the Dignity of Life

The enormous treasure tower described in “The Emergence of the Treasure Tower” chapter of the Lotus Sutra symbolizes the grand, universal scale and dignity of life. Now is the time, President Ikeda states, to establish an age of profound respect for life.

Life is a treasure tower. Its scale is as vast as the universe. Life is weightier than the earth; each individual is more important than the nation. This conviction is the foundation for our Soka humanism.

We are engaged in the work of building great treasure towers of respect for the dignity of life throughout society and the world. Through our movement, we are not only spreading the philosophy of respect for the dignity of life; we are helping one person after another reveal their precious inner treasure tower shining with nobility and happiness. There is no undertaking more sacred. Each Soka Gakkai member is an emissary of the Buddha carrying out the Buddha’s work.

All around us, towers of base impulses have risen skyward—towers of authoritarianism that block the sun; gilded towers of economic supremacism; towers of military dominance that cast dark shadows of death. The 20th century was a time when those ominous towers rose their highest and proliferated most widely. But it was also a time when their fragility was most clearly revealed and their foundations, which had seemed so strong, began to crumble.

Our struggle is to replace those towers with towers of humanity, towers of happiness, towers of life. But because we are pioneering the way for humankind, we are bound to face difficulties.

The 20th century has been called a century of revolution and war. It was a century in which the myth that the nation-state is sacrosanct grew to epic proportions, wreaking enormous destruction and distress. The worship of the nation-state—the worship of collective force, and the myth of nationalism—reached its extremes in Stalinism on the left and fascism on the right. The cult of power culminated in the development of nuclear weapons; the mushroom cloud is the great tower of the devilish forces that destroy life.

And in this way, the 20th century, more than any other, became the century of “megadeath.” The human race has experienced the full brunt of the idiocy and misery that belief in the sanctity of the state has caused. Nevertheless, in the second half of the century, the hope embodied in respect for human dignity began to take root.

It was in 1951, the midpoint of the century, that second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda made his declaration for kosen-rufu. [In his inaugural speech on becoming president, he proclaimed: “I vow to achieve a membership of 750,000 households during my lifetime!”] It was also the year the Soka Gakkai youth division was established. Its mission, therefore, was clear. The time had come to build treasure towers of respect for human dignity.

I believe that the coming age will be one of respect for the dignity of life, an age of life. I have stressed this for many years, asserting that it is the only hope for humanity’s survival. It is gradually becoming clear to thinking people around the world that we cannot respect the dignity of human beings without respecting the dignity of life itself. It has become apparent that selfish anthropocentrism, unchecked greed, and a sense of entitlement can only lead to humanity’s downfall.

The universal scale of the treasure tower in the Lotus Sutra teaches us that the human being is more important than the state. Our movement promoting peace, culture, and education based on Buddhism, our movement for kosen-rufu, is demonstrating the nobility of the human being—both philosophically and in actual practice.

From a speech at a youth division general meeting, Tokyo, July 14, 1991.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.